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August 12 is Buy a Quebec Book Day – and we’ve got a few great Québec books in translation to recommend!
Talon is proud to be a Canadian publisher that specializes in publishing Québec novels in translation for English speakers in Canada and around the world. We also publish plays, non-fiction, and, occasionally, poetry by Quebec authors. Talon has a forty-year history of publishing Quebec authors and translators.
The list below highlights our three most recent Québec books (in translation from French to English) – simply click on the links to purchase the books!
Kuei, My Friend A Conversation on Race and Reconciliation by Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Deni Ellis Béchard, translated by Deni Ellis Béchard and Howard Scott
Kuei, My Friend is an engaging book of letters: a literary and political encounter between Innu poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Québécois-American novelist Deni Ellis Béchard. Choosing the epistolary form, they decided to engage together in a frank conversation about racism and reconciliation.
By sharing honestly even their most painful memories, these two writers offer an accessible, humanist book on the social bridge-building and respect for difference. Kuei, My Friend is accompanied by a chronology of events, a glossary of relevant terms in the Innu language, and, most importantly, a detailed teacher’s guide that includes topics of discussion, questions, and suggested reflections for examination in a classroom setting.
Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of Vandal Love (Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book); Of Bonobos and Men (Grand Prize winner of the Nautilus Book Award for investigative journalism); Cures for Hunger, a memoir about his bank robber father (selected as one of the best memoirs of 2012 by Amazon.ca); and Into the Sun (Midwest Book Award for literary fiction, selected by CBC Radio Canada as one of 2017’s Incontournables and one of the most important books of the year to be read by Canada’s political leaders).
Born in 1991, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine is Innu, originally from Pessamit on Quebec’s North Shore. Poet-performer, actor, visual artist, and activist for Indigenous and environmental rights, she lives in Montreal. Her first collection of poems, Do Not Enter My Soul in Your Shoes (translated by Howard Scott; Mawenzi House, 2015), recounts her initial identity questioning and was hailed by critics, earning her the 2013 Prix littéraire des Écrivains francophones d’Amérique. A finalist at the 2015 Prix Émile-Nelligan, her second collection Assi Manifesto (Mawenzi House, 2016) offers a song to our planet Earth, suffocating as a result of the exploitation of natural resources, of tar sands in particular. Her third collection of poetry, Blueberries and Apricots (Mawenzi House, 2018) carries “the speech of the Indigenous woman, coming back to life to reverse history.”
The Green Chamber by Martine Desjardins, translated by Fred A. Reed & David Homel
Every house has its secrets, but none hides them better than the august house of the Delorme family, located in one of Montreal’s upper-middle-class, suburban neighbourhoods. With its sixty-seven locks, brass-grilled counters, and impenetrable underground vault – where lie the mummified remains of a woman clutching a brick between her teeth – the Delorme residence may be apprehended as The Green Chamber’s central persona. A private bank of a sort, it has always held its lot of ill-acquired gains, hidden vices, cruel rituals, and illicit substances away from prying eyes. Louis-Dollard Delorme, his miserly wife Estelle, and his three spinster sisters revere money so much that they have converted their residence’s “green chamber” into a place of worship and have elevated domestic penny-pinching to an art form. As for the family’s heir, Vincent, they intend for him to make a highly profitable marriage – a reasonable prospect, until the day when the house opens its doors to Penny Sterling, a young woman whose means equal only her curiosity.
Martine Desjardins was born in the Town of Mount Royal, Quebec, in 1957. The second child of six, she started writing short stories when she was seventeen. Her first novel, Le cercle de Clara, was published by Leméac in 1997, and was nominated for both the Prix littéraires du Québec and the Grand prix des lectrices de ELLE Québec in 1998. Desjardins currently lives in the Town of Mount Royal. In her free time, she paints miniature models of ruins overgrown with vegetation.
Around Her by Sophie Bienvenu, translated by Rhonda Mullins
In the mid-1990s, a sixteen-year-old girl, secretive and vulnerable, gives birth to a healthy boy in the anonymity of a Montreal hospital. She gives him up for adoption – a parting that will affect, perhaps even govern and determine, all successive stages of her adult life. Around Her traces twenty years of the lives of Florence Gaudreault and her estranged son Adrien through the prism of twenty characters who have crossed their paths and who, each in turn and with their own unique voice, tell their story.
Sophie Bienvenu is a Québécois writer. After studying visual communication in Paris, she settled in Quebec in 2001 and quickly established herself as a successful blogger. Et au pire, on se mariera (La Mèche) her first novel, was followed by Chercher Sam (translation forthcoming from Talonbooks, 2019). Bienvenu’s writing takes its readers on an emotional journey, an intense exploration of profoundly human characters, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Want more ideas? Check out last year’s post!
Happy Buy a Québec Book Day!